North Korea threatened to scrap the 2018 inter-Korean agreement Thursday if Seoul did not act quickly to stop anti-Pyongyang leaflets being sent over the two countries' border by defectors' groups based in South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong said in a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency that the North could consider not only scrapping the pact, but also terminating exchange projects with the South if the latter did not stop the "hostile activities."
"If the South Korean authorities fail to come up with proper measures, they will have to be fully ready to face the consequences, whether it be the abolition of the Mount Geumgang tour program, a complete removal of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, a closure of the inter-Korean liaison office or the scrapping of the North-South military agreement," she said in the statement.
Kim Yo-jong, who serves as first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, claimed that the floating of balloons containing anti-North Korea leaflets over the border by civic groups who promote North Korean defectors' rights were in violation of the Panmunjeom Declaration signed during the first summit between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un on April 27, 2018.
"The South must be well aware that the Panmunjeom Declaration banned all hostile activities near the Military Demarcation Line," Kim said. "Even as the two countries will soon mark the 20th anniversary of June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, the South still continues to send leaflets. The South will soon face the worst-ever situation in inter-Korean relations if this is not stopped."
She was is referring to anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets that were floated in the direction of North Korea, May 31, by a defectors' group. Some of the leaflets criticized Kim Jong-un's continued missile tests.
The group said that it plans to send 1 million leaflets into North Korea on June 25, the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War.
This is the first time for Kim Yo-jong, who has been sending out important diplomatic messages on behalf of her brother starting this year, has mentioned the anti-North Korea leaflets specifically in a statement released under her name.
A few hours after her statement, the Ministry of Unification said that it will look into ways to prevent the leaflets from being launched at the inter-Korean border area. "We are seeking legal revisions to fundamentally ease tension in the border region," a ministry official said.
The ministry's position raised concerns that it is being too lenient with Pyongyang.
Cheong Wa Dae also said Thursday that all hostile activities in the border area must be stopped. "The leaflets sent to North Korea are completely useless," a senior presidential aide said Thursday. "I think there will be a response to actions that pose a threat to national security."
Kim Yo-jong's statement comes as another blow to President Moon's active push since the beginning of the year to expedite inter-Korean projects that have been stalled due to U.S. objections and international sanctions.